If Ryan Theriot keeps this up, we'll have to start asking him questions about his association with Manny Ramirez. We're joking. Sort of.
The Cubs have had a pretty blah start to their season, primarily thanks to injuries. Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto, Carlos Zambrano: all have spent time on disabled list, or perilously close to it, and the Cubs have yet to field a truly healthy lineup full of the stars expected to carry them to another NL Central title. It's been a rough year.
But Ryan Theriot has been a different story altogether. Wednesday night, Theriot banged two home runs out of Wrigley Field, giving the Cubs a 6-4 lead over the Padres before the game was called due to rain. (Hey, good timing, rain!) The two home runs gave Theriot his fourth and fifth on the season. For, say, Alfonso Soriano, that number would be no big deal. For Theriot, it's already a career high. And it's only May.
In 33 games so far this season, Theriot's batting average and on-base percentage have stayed roughly the same; what's changed is his slugging, which is up 120 points, from .359 last year to .480 this year. He already has two triples, half of his number from 2008, and four doubles, which puts him roughly on pace for last year's mark of 19. It's those home runs: They've boosted Theriot's extra-base potential more than anyone could have hoped for in the first part of this season.
And here's the thing about Theriot: This probably won't last. By his own standards, he's on a torrid pace. (He hit only one home run in 2008. Think about that.) But with the Cubs' injuries wiping out a portion of April and May, now couldn't have been a better time for Theriot to step it up. It might fade eventually. But for now, Theriot (along with Kosuke Fukudome, for that matter) is carrying these Cubs, right when they need it the most.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.